Framework for assessing collaborations

Utrecht University acknowledges that there is a climate crisis and that this is one of the biggest challenges we face as a society. By now, we can even speak of a climate emergency in some parts of the world. Utrecht scientists have already been sounding the alarm about this for some time now and are making important contributions to climate research. We are also working hard to raise awareness and increase sustainability in our education programmes and business operations.

The Executive Board is constantly looking for ways to increase the university's positive impact on the climate. Because it is crucial that the fossil industry becomes more sustainable, the line of the university so far has been that research collaboration with the fossil industry was permissible, provided the goal was to advance the energy transition. Whether or not and to what extent such collaboration is desirable, and/or under which conditions, is a question that lives both in society and within our university.


Therefore, much energy has been put into discussions and two Deep Democracy sessions on this topic for staff members and students in recent months in order to draw up the main principles for a framework for assessing collaborations with the fossil industry. This required diligence and the settling of dilemmas. On this page, we provide an overview of the steps taken so far.

What do we mean by fossil industry

The use of products made from fossil resources is woven throughout our society. From the clothes we wear to the buildings we work in, they often incorporate products that originated in fossil fuels. Therefore, to determine whether a research project involves collaboration with the fossil industry, the following delineation was used: “Companies with so-called upstream activities: the exploration and extraction of oil and gas.” Collaborations with general chemical and energy companies are not included in this overview.